Tag: Employee Motivation

Object-Oriented Theory of Team Motivation

Object-Oriented Theory of Team Motivation

Motivation is not all about philosophical needs, of course. A lot of people work better when they have the concrete facts in front of them – something to work towards, something to avoid. Different things motivate different people, and in any given team or workforce, there will be a mix of these people. As Herzberg’s Theory suggests, what will motivate each individual will be a mix of satisfaction and non-dissatisfaction. This is similar to the old theory of the “carrot and whip” – based on the hypothesis of riding a horse and using the carrot to encourage it to speed up, and the whip to prevent it from slowing down too much. Then there is also the idea of the plant – seeing a worker as a “plant” who, given the right mix of the already-discussed factors, will flower beautifully. The carrot, the whip, and the plant are united into the heading of “Object-Oriented Theory”.

The Carrot

The “carrot” as a theory takes its lead from horse-riding and dates back to the middle of the 20th century. The idea is that a cart driver would tie a carrot to a long stick and dangle it in front of the horse or donkey which was pulling his cart. As the donkey moved forward towards the carrot, he would pull the cart and driver forward, ensuring that the carrot always remained beyond his reach until such time as the driver slowed down and stopped, at which point – should he so desire – the driver could give the carrot to the horse as a reward for doing what it has been encouraged to do.

For the employer, this can perhaps be read in a number of ways. Looking at how the “carrot” theory works, it is quite easy to assume that the “carrots” offered to employees should be continually moved beyond their reach, and this assumes that the employee is as stubborn and witless as a donkey. This would be a rash assumption to make, and continually moving the point of reward away from the employee could be seen as a disincentive. Not delivering on a promise is always likely to annoy workers rather than stiffen their resolve to meet the new goals.

It could, however, also be argued that the carrot on the stick is something which should not just hang there within easy reach. The employee will need to keep testing themselves, but as long as they meet their challenges they will be rewarded at the end of their efforts. In the theory detailed in the first paragraph, there is a defined end point. The important element of the theory is that if someone has the promise of a reward at the end of their work, they are likely to keep striving for it. If that reward is continually denied them even at the end of their work, however, do not be surprised if it ceases to work.

The Whip

In different cultures it is known by different names, but the second part of the “Carrot” theory is the Whip. There is a long history of terms and sayings attached to the idea of having an element of threat involved in motivating a group of employees, or anyone for that matter. “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, for example, is an old proverb meaning that if you never punish someone for transgressing, they will come to believe that they can transgress as and when they wish. In the old “Carrot” theory, the way it works is that if the employee tired of chasing after a carrot that never seems to get any closer, simply slows down, a quick smack with the whip will make it speed up again.

The theory of motivation by threat of punishment is one which needs to be handled very carefully indeed. Not only is it absolutely illegal in many places to physically discipline workers, but other forms of threat can have a detrimental effect on the workforce. An employer, team leader, or manager with a reputation for flying off the handle when things are not to their satisfaction may get results from some people, but this method can lead to a culture of fear within a company or department, and stifle performance in order to simply get the work done.

It is left up to the person providing the motivation to decide to what extent and in what way they will use the “whip”. There can be initiatives which combine the carrot and the whip – for example, in a one-off situation over the course of a day or so, the person or people who have performed worst in the team can be required to buy coffees or any other small reward for those who have performed best. A “forfeit” system can also be applied, but it is dangerous to apply anything too humiliating in this situation. The limits of the system need to be clearly defined. If it is something so meaningless that it won’t be taken seriously, the whip ceases to be a motivation. If it is too stringent it becomes the whole focus and can infringe upon performance.

The Plant

An element of objected-oriented motivation which, is essentially separate from the above, but not incompatible with them, is known as “Plant” theory. Take as your example a simple house plant. In order to ensure that a plant flourishes it is important to give it the best combination possible of different nourishing elements. Most plants will require sunlight, warmth, water, and food in order to grow in the way you would wish. By the same token, employees will be motivated by a combination of factors.

The average employee will require motivation in many of the forms discussed by Maslow and Herzberg, and because humans are not all the same it will be a matter of judgment to ensure that each employee gets the right amount of each factor. This can be something as simple as getting the balance of “carrot and whip” motivation right. It is important, in many managers’ eyes, to get the balance right between the arm around the shoulders and the boot up the backside. Making an employee feel valued and supported without letting them become coddled is important, as is ensuring that they know they have to perform without making them feel like they have a gun against their head.

Taking three of Herzberg’s essential elements of motivation as an example, some employees work best with the prospect of challenge in their work, while some will work better with the goal of recognition. Others, equally, will want simply to get through as much work as they can while doing the work to a high level of quality. It is important to take into account the differing “buttons” that need to be pressed in each staff member to ensure that they do their job as well as possible. It is many people’s view that the team which will work best is the one that has a combination of people who work well under different motivations. This way, tasks within the team can be assigned in a balanced way and ensure the best performance from every individual, and consequently the best performance from the team. The “Plant” theory, as applied here, is about knowing which plant requires which type of nourishment in which measure. By getting the balance right you can ensure the best “greenhouse” arrangement.

 

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The Role of Personality Types in Team Motivation

The Role of Personality Types in Team Motivation

Any successful team consists of a mix of personality types. A team in which everyone has the same personality type, is more likely to experience conflict between its members. When a problem arises in the team, everyone is more likely to try and take the same role in solving it. To motivate your team effectively, it is vital that you identify your personality type as well as the personality types of your team members. It is also essential to realize that different personality types have different ways of motivating others, and different ways in which they are motivated.

Identifying Your Own Personality Type

Those aspects of your character that arise when around others or when doing something important, defines your personality type. Various tests have been created to identify your personality type, but perhaps the best way to detect your personality type is to examine your reaction to a problem which affects the whole team. How do you react to a problem?

  • Do you immediately look for a solution to the problem?
  • Are you instinctively worried by what happens?
  • Do you ask other people to help with the problem?
  • Do you comfort the people in the team that are stressed by the problem?
  • Do you stand on the fringes, making comments and jokes?

All these reactions are helpful in the team and can contribute to overcoming the problem. The “problem solver”, the “consensus seeker”, the “nurturer” and the “humorist” are all classic personality types. All these personality types have an equal part in making up a successful team.

  • Without problem solvers,  the team would be more likely to deviate from the team’s plan.
  • Consensus seekers make sure that problem solvers do not become too independent.
  • Nurtures ensure that a problem does not become a crisis.
  • The humorist ensures that everybody remains in high spirit despite the problem.

How much we allow our personality to show is often limited by convention and reason. Most people will also avoid being seen as too one dimensional.

Identifying the Personality Type of Other Team Members

While most people have a clear idea of their own personality type, it is more difficult to identify the personality type of other team members. The best way of identifying the personality types of others is by speaking to them and observing how they behave in various situations. Ice Breakers and Team Building Activities are also effective ways of getting to know the personality types of your team members. These activities highlight people’s priorities and show a lot about their personality type outside of the activities. The team building activities will show which team member is a dominant character, who is pragmatic, who is light hearted and so on. In these activities,  you will pick up if two or more people are competing for the dominant position and which members choose to play a less confrontational part. Ice breakers and team building activities are excellent for learning about the personality types of all the team members.

Motivating the Different Personality Types in Your Team

Different personality types motivate other people in different ways and different personality types are motivated differently. The conciliatory personality type will motivate the rest of the team by speaking to them one-on-one. They will allow the other team members to see where they can excel and improve. They have the ability to share good news discreetly and put bad news in a good way.  The dominant personality type is more likely to deliver criticism one-on-one as they will be wary of not de-motivating the rest of the team by delivering criticism in the open. Good news, on the other hand, will be delivered loudly and shared throughout the team. The dominant personality type will want to spread the joy and motivate the rest of the team to try and achieve the same.

Different personality types will contribute to your team’s motivation in different ways. By assigning each team member the correct role within the team, you enable them to get the best out of themselves and their team members.

 

Employee Motivation Training Course